Comrades 2024: Polly Shortts cutoff likely to kill the dreams of hundreds

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The good news is that we’ll see runners on the field during the last minute before cutoff this year. The bad news is that we’ll still be a few hundred runners short of a full field.

After the cutoff debacle at Comrades 2023, the Comrades 2024 cutoffs were always going to come under scrutiny. When the original Comrades 2024 cutoffs were published, several people pointed out some serious potential flaws. It was encouraging to see that new Race and Operations Manager, Ann Ashworth, listened to the feedback and took them back for review.

Continue reading “Comrades 2024: Polly Shortts cutoff likely to kill the dreams of hundreds”
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Comrades 2018 (Full statistical analysis)

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How The 2018 Men’s Comrades Down Run Was Won

In the men’s race, it’s all fun and games until well after the halfway mark at split five, the Winston Park – Pinetown split. This is where all eventual top five finishers run their fastest segment and sorts out the real contenders for the Comrades crown from the pretenders.

From Pinetown there are just five real challengers for the win (with Steven Way behind as a possible sixth). Bongmusa Mthembu turns on the gas and no one else comes close to match him over the last 21km – where he runs the fastest final two splits in the field.

There was a lot of talk about Steven Way’s strong finish but interesting to note that Bongmusa Mthembu was faster than him in all seven splits (and still significantly so over last two splits).

Continue reading “Comrades 2018 (Full statistical analysis)”
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Comrades 2022 Elite Female Stats

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This is part of a trilogy of articles providing an in-depth statistical analysis of Comrades 2022. Also see the statistical analysis articles on Elite Men and Overall / Full Field (coming soon).

The Gold Standard

The graph below shows the average pace between each timing mat for the top ten. Adele Broodryk makes an early move between Lynnfield Park and Cato Ridge (one of only two splits where a female runner dips below 4min/km) but she can’t hold the pace through halfway.

The big (and definitive) move usually happens between Winston Park and Pinetown in the down run this year is no different. Morozova smashes the fastest pace of the race (3:52) and, although she slows on the Sherwood split (which includes Cowies Hill), she extends her lead with no one else coming close to matching her.

Morozova’s pace over the two splits from Winston Park to Sherwood was the difference at Comrades 2022 (photo courtesy of Marathonfoto.com)
Continue reading “Comrades 2022 Elite Female Stats”
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Life Lessons from the Road: It’s a Jog, not a Sprint

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Business agility has recently become a big buzzword in the corporate world. If you work for a large corporate there’s a good chance that you are currently part of a ‘business agility transformation‘. These are characterised by consultants throwing Japanese words around like ninja stars in a pot-noodle eastern* and lots of talk about sprinting and scrumming.

* as opposed to a spaghetti western.

The good news is that sprinting is really easy – even if the last time you did any running was in PE class at school when you were forced to. Everyone can manage a sprint: It’s a short burst of energy, after which you’re doubled over gasping for breath and can’t run any more. Continue reading “Life Lessons from the Road: It’s a Jog, not a Sprint”

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Comrades 2019: Ladies Elite Field (All the Stats)

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A stat by stat account of the Comrades 2019 Women’s Race.

The Gold Standard

Click to expand.

Gerda Steyn was in a class of her own smashing the record and becoming the first lady to break six hours on the Up Run (only three ladies have achieved this on the Down Run). After a fast start by Ann Ashworth (2018 Down Run winner) and Camille Herron (defending Up Run champion), Steyn takes the lead early on and no one comes close to keeping up with her.

Fields Hill fractures the field directly after Pinetown. Alexandra Morozova makes her move before Drummond but can’t keep pace with Steyn and settles for second. After starting slowly, Caitriona Jennings blasts her way to halfway but struggles over the latter states of the race (doing well to hang onto third position). The most interesting pacing is by the local Kwazulu Natal debutant Jenna Challenor, who produces a great even run for a sixth place finish. Continue reading “Comrades 2019: Ladies Elite Field (All the Stats)”

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How a 70-year-old man with a bad back won the Comrades Ladies’ Race (The story of #483)

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There is no human alive who loves the Comrades Marathon more than Dave Jack. He’s had had a six-decade long love affair with the race – and his unbridled passion shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Dave’s run it 14 times, done live reports on the event for Radio 702 for 18 years driving alongside the race leaders, stadium announcing and prize-giving MCing for over a decade. He’s served on the Comrade Organising Committee (the forerunner to the Comrades Marathon Association) and is one of the very few people to have earned a ‘running’ Green Number (for 10 finishes) and well as a ‘serving’ Green Name (for 10 years or more in service of the race).

Dave Jack finishing his first Comrades in 1968.

Dave told me, “I’ve done everything there is to do at Comrades except win the race!” Well, actually that’s not quite true – and that is why I am writing this article. But the story of how Dave Jack won the 2018 ladies race takes some explaining and requires a detailed backstory – so here goes…

Continue reading “How a 70-year-old man with a bad back won the Comrades Ladies’ Race (The story of #483)”

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Loskop Marathon (The one with a late start & a fast finish)

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[Marathon #214 / 11th Loskop Ultra Marathon / 6 April 2019]

It is rather perturbing to wake up at the feet of Dawn* for one of your favourite ultra marathons and find that there is a 4am text message saying, “URGENT NOTICE: Due to public violence en-route both race starts will be delayed by AT LEAST an HOUR – Police are evaluating the situation. Next update 5:00”. Continue reading “Loskop Marathon (The one with a late start & a fast finish)”

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The High Stakes Runderwear Gamble (Risking it all on the nought)

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The Runderwear Experiment

The Time: Just after 05h00 on a Saturday morning

The Place: Room 114, The Desert Palace Hotel and Casino, Upington

The Subject: The Running Mann

Setting the Scene: An alarm rings. A bleary-eyed marathon obsessive sits bolt upright after a restless night’s sleep. With well over 200 marathons under the belt, there is little that keeps our protagonist awake at night – but last night he slept a little less easy and there was a lot more stirring. Continue reading “The High Stakes Runderwear Gamble (Risking it all on the nought)”

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The Famous Five

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South Africa’s Five Famous Female Athletes

You know you’re famous when people can just use a first name* and everyone knows exactly who you are. This is certainly true for each of these five female running stars (even outside of running circles): Frith, Zola, Elana, Blanche and Sonja – surname not required!

* The opposite of being ‘individually first name famous’ is to be ‘collectively surname infamous’. The Kardashians are a good example of this. 

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Not All Superheroes Wear Capes – Some Wear Running Shoes (& Helmets)

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The two hardest time-based medals to earn at Comrades are the Wally Hayward for men and the silver for women. Just 17 women (0.5% of the ladies’ field) earned the medal this year. Surprisingly, considering South African demographics, this year’s Comrades saw only two black ladies finishing under 7h30 to earn a gold or silver medal – one of these was Enie Manzini.

Who is Enie Manzini?

An inspirational athlete, firefighter, paramedic, single mom and all-round superheroine. She is also a survivor of domestic violence.

Superheroine Enie Manzini (in her firefighting outfit).

Continue reading “Not All Superheroes Wear Capes – Some Wear Running Shoes (& Helmets)”

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